ALDS intensity stokes Rangers' thoughts of '16
Series a true example of postseason baseball
TORONTO -- The Texas Rangers were quiet in the Rogers Centre visiting clubhouse after losing their hard-fought American League Division Series to the Toronto Blue Jays.
They had taken a one-run lead in the top of the seventh inning of the deciding Game 5 on a controversial call, and they saw it all disappear in the bottom of the frame in the form of three consecutive errors by their infield and a three-run home run by Jose Bautista.
Eventually their special season ended with a 6-3 final score.
In the immediate aftermath, the Rangers said it was hard to fathom such a great season coming to an end, but they also recognized that the Blue Jays were a very good, tough team and entirely worthy of their placement in the upcoming AL Championship Series.
"That's baseball," said Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who homered in the loss. "In baseball, things happen, and you never know. We won the first two games, and we lost the next three games. That's baseball.
"We played a great team. Probably better than us."
Rangers manager Jeff Banister spoke of some of the little things that the Blue Jays did in Game 5 to come out ahead, particularly a play in the third inning, when Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was caught stealing third base for the final out of the inning by Toronto catcher Russell Martin.
"Martin made a great throw to throw us out," Banister said. "We know that it's going to be tough to score off [Blue Jays starter Marcus] Stroman, so I don't feel like it took any momentum away from us. ... We got thrown out."
Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland commented on how intense the series was, acknowledging that neither team would give in.
Texas, after all, had won the first two games on the road, and the Blue Jays went to Arlington and won the next two to tie things up before winning it at home. Several of the games, including the finale, could have swung the other way on a single pitch.
In other words, Moreland said, the series lived up to every bit of what October is supposed to be.
"Everybody in the postseason is good," Moreland said. "It's going to be a tough series against anybody. Every team's here for a reason. They've had good years. We felt like coming into it, we had just as good of a chance as anybody else, and we played hard. We played hard all five games. We were just on the wrong end of it."
The wounds were fresh and the Rangers were being asked more questions about what they did wrong than what the Blue Jays did right, but there was respect for the level of play in the series and for the victorious team in the other dugout.
Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields, for example, said it was constantly "nerve-wracking" and as good as playoff baseball gets.
Left fielder Josh Hamilton agreed with that sentiment.
"Both teams fought hard," Hamilton said. "They came out on top. We came up a little short, but we'll remember throughout the offseason and come in ready to go."
Rangers starter Cole Hamels described how tough it was to pitch to Edwin Encarnacion, who homered off Hamels to tie the game at 2 in the sixth inning, and generally complimented the Blue Jays on their resolve, but he also marveled at how competitive the series was while looking forward to his team's prospects next year.
"Outstanding," Hamels said. "These were the baseball moments you want to be in. You don't want to be on the losing side, but you want to at least be able to have these moments. Some people don't ever get to have these opportunities.
"And this is what builds you and can create great things. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and when you get to the postseason, you're playing the best."